Chef Shawn Smith
Braza, www.hottomatos.net, Hartford, CT
- 4 fresh yucca, about 3 pounds (available at Latin markets)
- 2 cups flour for dredging
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt plus extra if needed
- 1 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
Peel the yuccas with a vegetable peeler. Halve the yuccas and remove and discard the tough fibers in the center. Slice and cut into French-fry size strips. Add strips to a pot of boiling water and cook 2-3 minutes to blanch lightly. Strips should remain firm, not soft.
Remove, drain, and pat dry yuccas. Let cool.
Combine flour and spices in a large mixing bowl and stir to mix. Add yucca and toss to coat.
Fill large saucepan halfway with oil. Set over medium high heat. When oil is hot and bubbling, add 2 cups of yuccas and cook until golden and crisp, about 7 minutes. Remove cooked yuccas with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels. Continue until all yuccas are fried.
Season with additional salt. Serves 6.
Recommended wine/beer for Spicy Yucca Fries:
Aveleda 2006 Alvarinho Vinho Verde [Minho, Portugal]
Nearly everything of significance in Brazilian culture has been influenced by its Portuguese heritage; this is especially true of its culinary traditions. Accordingly, it would seem advisable to pair Brazilian dishes with traditional Portuguese wines. For the yucca fries and spicy slaw, I have selected a single variety Vinho Verde that is just delightful. Ever so lightly effervescent, the Alvarinho grape not only yields a wine of great freshness [hence, the greenness of vinho verde], but an uncommon cerebral character that makes it a Rodin of a wine. Aveleda 2006 and spicy slaw—no problemo! Yes! Yes! I know it’s Spanish, not Portuguese. But, you’ve got to cut me a little slack—I have trouble enough in my native language.